Canadian Govt. Seen Probing Public Interest in Joining U.S. Missile Shield

Global Security Newswire Staff
May 13, 2014, 6:45 a.m.

Canada’s Con­ser­vat­ive Party-led gov­ern­ment seems to be prob­ing the pub­lic in­terest in join­ing a U.S. an­ti­mis­sile ini­ti­at­ive, the Globe and Mail re­ports.

Con­ser­vat­ive-con­trolled pan­els in the Ca­na­dian Sen­ate and House of Com­mons are in­ter­view­ing ex­perts about the costs and be­ne­fits of col­lab­or­at­ing with the United States on a mis­sile de­fense frame­work to pro­tect North Amer­ica, ac­cord­ing to the Tues­day art­icle. In 2005, then-Ca­na­dian Prime Min­is­ter Paul Mar­tin of the Lib­er­al Party op­ted to turn down a U.S. re­quest to par­ti­cip­ate in re­gion­al mis­sile de­fense.

A change in polit­ic­al lead­er­ship as well as per­cep­tions of a grow­ing threat posed by North Korea’s long-range mis­sile de­vel­op­ment have promp­ted Ot­t­awa to re­as­sess its stance on the is­sue, ac­cord­ing to Colin Robertson, vice-pres­id­ent of the Ca­na­dian De­fense and For­eign Af­fairs In­sti­tute.

“I think the gov­ern­ment is test­ing the wa­ters to see wheth­er the con­di­tions are right,” said Robertson, who fa­vors join­ing the U.S. mis­sile shield.

Philip Coyle, a one­time head of the Pentagon’s weapons test­ing and eval­u­ation of­fice, in Monday testi­mony to the Sen­ate cri­ti­cized U.S. mis­sile de­fense ef­forts as in­ef­fect­ive. “The hard­ware be­ing de­ployed in Alaska and Cali­for­nia has no demon­strated cap­ab­il­ity to de­fend the United States, let alone Canada, against en­emy mis­sile at­tack un­der real­ist­ic op­er­a­tion­al con­di­tions,” Coyle said.

He was re­fer­ring to the 30 in­ter­cept­ors cur­rently fielded on the West Coast as part of the Ground-based Mid­course De­fense sys­tem — the coun­try’s prin­cip­al de­fense against a lim­ited stra­tegic bal­list­ic mis­sile strike.

Con­fer­ence of De­fense As­so­ci­ations In­sti­tute ana­lyst Dav­id Perry said he be­lieves the Ca­na­dian gov­ern­ment is “float­ing a tri­al bal­loon” with the par­lia­ment hear­ings.

De­fense Min­is­ter Rob Nich­olson’s of­fice would not an­swer a ques­tion on wheth­er the gov­ern­ment is con­sid­er­ing chan­ging its mind about mis­sile de­fense co­oper­a­tion with Wash­ing­ton.

“No de­cision has been made to change this policy,” said his spokes­wo­man, Jo­hanna Quin­ney. “We will con­tin­ue to mon­it­or in­ter­na­tion­al de­vel­op­ments.”

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